10 Paid Media Myths That Continue to Fool Marketers

Nick Tomlin
Reading time: 7 minutes
29th March 2018

It’s April Fools day this weekend, and what better way to spend the annual day of tomfoolery than reading up on digital marketing myths that continue to fool far too many marketers? Nick Tomlin, Senior Campaign Manager for our Paid Media team, shares his tips for avoiding the top 10 myths in your 2018 efforts.

Myth #1: Facebook doesn’t work for direct response

Let’s start with an obvious one. Facebook is brilliant for direct response, however you will still find a lot of clients are doubtful of this, leading marketers to fall into the same trap.

There are countless ‘sales funnels’ I’ve seen in blogs and presentations which put social media at the top of the funnel for the’ awareness’ stage only. Whilst social media is good at raising awareness, these models imply that that is their sole purpose. The fact of the matter is that you can use social media marketing from start to finish with great results. In fact, all of my Facebook campaigns currently involve direct response, whether it’s selling products, driving signups, or even offering legal advice; it can all work.

Myth #2: Snapchat is only for young people

It’s well known that Snapchat’s core user base are teens and young adults, but at one stage so was Facebook’s! Remember the social media giant’s user base was originally only available for college students?

Last year Snapchat saw the most growth (2%) amongst older age groups, especially those 45 and older..Whilst this figure is still in the minority, the growth shows how userbases are subject to surprising change. It may seem like a tiny jump, but it was the largest increase compared to other ages. Subsequently projections for older age groups were adjusted upwards. Snapchat may only be for young people, but this may not be for long.

Myth #3: PPC is too expensive

When we (often) discuss the merits of social ads vs search ads, a common champion for social is the low costs needed to get campaigns up and running from day one.

Whilst I am probably more in the social marketing camp, I must concede that you shouldn’t dismiss search as ‘expensive.’ A lot of inexperienced marketers may try Adwords for a few weeks and give up after not seeing immediate dividends. The reality is that it takes time to test and measure your activity and with patience you may see excellent results. An advantage of search ads is that you are likely to target users who are actively searching out a product or service, so they are more likely to engage with your ad. In fact, dare I say it, once you start seeing your search ads convert you may also see far better value in these conversions.

Myth #4: Programmatic is problematic

Moving onto programmatic advertising, a common view of this type of marketing is that people will be followed around the web by your ads on any and every site for, well, forever. It’s a common concern that your ads will bombard users throughout different sites causing ad fatigue and resentment towards your brand.

people will be endlessly followed around by my ads

However this is simply not the case – you can control how often, when and where people see these ads along with the content in the ads. So you can design your own retargeting journey and decide how often each person is exposed to the brand on a daily/weekly/monthly/lifetime level.

Myth #5: If you’re not in the top position you’re doing it wrong

This is a common misconception in PPC advertising, especially among those who aren’t as well versed in the format. Most people see being at the top of the ads on page one, as the equivalent of being ahead of the competition, but other than maybe brand bidding this just isn’t the case. In fact when you look at conversion rates there is no correlation when looking at ad ranks; conversion rate will be just as good in position #4 as it is in position #1.

It is much better to focus on your CTR, CPC, conversion rate etc before you even start considering ad rank. Most businesses are driven by their CPA or ROI targets, these can be far more achievable when you are bidding in the cheaper lower positions.

Myth #6: Retargeting is creepy

Related to point #4, this is something that online advertisers hear all the time. A lot of people express their dislike that their data is used to target them in a specific way and often describe the process as ‘creepy’. This perspective can put some marketers off creating retargeting campaigns altogether. However, when done right, retargeting is an essential part of the advertising process. As mentioned above, you can control frequency and content on most platforms to prevent ad fatigue and perhaps lessen the perceived ‘creepiness’ of the process.

Retargeting is creepy

Essentially, you are targeting engaged users and tailoring your adverts towards them. On all platforms, retargeting is a way of delivering more relevant ads to users. You will see conversions for a much lower cost if you can set up an effective retargeting system, so you really can’t afford not to retarget users.

Myth #7: Broad match keywords are a waste of time

Another common misconception shared by many PPC advertisers. Many see broad match as an expensive waste of time, which can actually be the case if not implemented effectively. The fact of the matter is, when done well and structured properly, broad match keywords can be a useful tool. If you add a bunch of these keywords without structure then yes, you will have little control and your costs will increase unnecessarily.

But broad match keywords are a great tool for keyword mining. We find the best practice to make this work is to set your ads up so that your exact match keywords are being excluded from the broad match, the remaining traffic is then caught by your broad match keywords. This can be a great way of increasing your ad traffic, but caution is needed so your costs don’t spiral.

Myth #8: Lead Gen ads are pointless

Most marketers view lead gen ads as an unnecessary step when looking to convert people. Some say that by adding more time and processes in between people clicking the ad to converting them, then you will inevitably see more drop off. But this isn’t always the case.

Lead Gen ads are a waste of time

Some ads can be ideal for lead gen campaigns and you may find that it is the most effective way to drive conversions. Not only will you be collecting data from engaged users who are expressing an interest in your ad, but you can customise the questions in your form to aid you in converting these aforementioned users. In fact last year when running lead gen ads for a client we saw a 38% decrease in CPA when comparing the lead gen ads to the regular web traffic ads we were running for them.

Myth #9: Pinterest isn’t right for advertising

Pinterest hasn’t made many waves when marketers talk about advertising platforms. We find clients are more excited to talk about Snapchat when discussing new avenues of traffic. The image-led social network, whilst not being an obvious channel for marketers, still has it’s uses. The target audience for the platform is primarily females 25+, so you are limited if this isn’t exactly the user base you are looking to reach. However, if it is, then you’re in luck.

When running adverts we have seen excellent click, impression, and engagement metrics from a relatively new advertising source. When it comes to conversions we’ve seen similar numbers to the Facebook ads running the same content. Whilst also providing another source of traffic, the platform also has several interesting features. One of which is when your adverts end, the pins live on beyond the campaign, so after the paid activity stops it continues to circulate. To conclude, it may offer a more specific target audience, but when done right, Pinterest can work for you.

Myth #10: You need a large customer base before you can start targeting with lookalikes

A lot of marketers will wait a while before starting a campaign with user data. These marketers are either ignorant or more likely, they are just procrastinating. For Facebook you can build a lookalike audience from as little as 100 people, this helps you use your existing data to build a broader audience whilst still being a relevant targeting option. So rather than putting off building your ads due to small audience sizes you should really get to work already.

Written By Nick Tomlin
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